Will “big data” create new IT jobs or incite massive retraining?

Rush to big data could reshape IT landscape for many

Interesting question posed by the analysts at Ovum this week: Will the rush to utilize big data require bring about new  IT jobs force organizations to retrain existing IT staff?

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"Hadoop is threatening to become the new data warehouse for many organizations, with many of the basic data management tasks around Hadoop similar to those required for traditional relational database and data warehouse environments. DBAs charged with administering Oracle, IBM, or Teradata warehouses might now have to redefine their roles, loosen their outlook on traditional data modeling, and refresh their skills to administer Hadoop clusters, and in many cases to integrate Hadoop environments with existing relational database technologies," writes Madan Sheina, the lead analyst on software for Ovum.

He says experienced Java or C++ programmers could find greater opportunities to extend their skills (and salaries) with MapReduce. "BI analysts tackling Big Data are likely to gravitate toward scripting languages such as Python, Perl, BASH, and AWK that are emerging as the staple tools of choice for data scientists."

A Network World colleague Carolyn Marsan recently wrote: New job opportunities are emerging for IT professionals in the field of big data. A new job title -- data scientist -- is all the rage. A data scientist typically has a background in computer science or mathematics as well as the analytical skills necessary to find the proverbial needle in a haystack of data gathered by the corporation.

"A data scientist is somebody who is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends," says Anjul Bhambhri, vice president of Big Data Products at IBM. "It's almost like a Renaissance individual who really wants to learn and bring change to an organization."

Unheard of 18 months ago, "data scientist" has exploded in popularity as a Google search term. The number of Google searches of "data scientist" hit peaks 20 times higher than normal in the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. It's a popular search term in high-tech hotspots such as San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York. Among the US companies looking to hire data scientists are PayPal, Amazon and HP. Indeed, the term "data scientist" is mentioned in 195 job listings on the Dice.com website for IT professionals, Marsan wrote.

Sheina meanwhile says big data will attract a wave of demand for analytics skills around predictive modeling, data mining, natural-language processing, content analysis, social network analysis, and sentiment analysis. This is already leading to productized big data offerings such as R for advanced predictive and statistical analysis.

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"For now, service providers are plugging the skills gap. Indications are that revenue generated from consulting and systems integrators organizing formal big data practices focused on Hadoop will initially be much greater than that generated from NoSQL and Hadoop products hitting the market. Vendors are starting to redress the skills imbalance through training, tooling, solutions, and services, with IBM, Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR all providing training courses in Hadoop."

What do you think?

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